After the terrific victory away to West Brom and a performance which highlighted the character, togetherness and self-belief of the squad, this encounter with Ajax in the Champions League poses a different threat, but it’s a must-win game if the Blues are to have any realistic chance of advancing to the next stage. Just one point acquired from the opening two fixtures in the group has left City with a tough task if they are to improve upon last season’s effort but progression is still possible. For that to happen, they need to defeat the Dutch champions twice. Starting with Wednesday night.
The win away at the Hawthorns was an uplifting one and the momentum and confidence gleaned from Saturday must be carried forward to tomorrow. Ajax have lost both of their matches in the Champions League so far and were held 3-3 at the weekend so will, no doubt, be nervous. The Blues must capitalise on that anxiety and exert their own authority and control on the game, something they have failed to do so far in Europe during this campaign.
William Hill have some excellent odds for this match: Edin Dzeko to score the first goal and City to win 2-1 is hugely tempting at 41/1 whilst Vincent Kompany to score the only goal of the game is 101/1.
In terms of team selection, Roberto Mancini is devoid of the services of injured quartet of Maicon, Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and David Silva. Matija Nastasic and Pablo Zabaleta are vying for places at the back, whilst James Milner is expected to continue in his holding midfield role and should be fresh after only playing for twenty minutes against West Brom!
After scoring a brace on Saturday, Edin Dzeko is pushing to start and could be given an opportunity to lead the line. Sergio Aguero is likely to be restored to the line-up after being rested for the trip to the Hawthorns, but Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tévez both performed well and may be handed another chance.
Here is the side Mancini could select:
Ajax were hugely impressive last season in winning the Eredivisie but their form in the Champions League so far has been poor. Their squad includes Ryan Babel, the former Liverpool winger/striker whose pace may cause City’s backline the odd problem, whilst Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen is a supremely talented youngster who has been linked with a move to the Premier League in the past.
Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen – He’s a 33 year old Norwegian who officiated Arsenal’s meeting with Olympiakos on the previous matchday.
Prediction: Ajax 1 – 2 MAN CITY – It promises to be a tight, tense affair but the Blues’ extra quality should reign supreme. Goals to be scored by Sergio Aguero, Yaya Touré and Tobias Sana.
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